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Immigration and Poverty

July 11, 1999

Re "Immigration Is Fueling Poverty Rate," Column Right, July 6:

Although Dan Stein's assertions are not politically correct ones, they are nevertheless strongly supported by a large volume of research that is derived through valid and reliable methods. It's sad that there are people out there who, for a variety of self-serving reasons, continue to discourage change to the current system of U.S. immigration. These groups and individuals continually obscure the truth by painting the criminal violators of immigration law as innocent victims and the enforcers of immigration law as heartless villains.

This very resistance to change and portrayal of evil law enforcers feed the unscrupulous industries that exploit the very people who are supposed to be helped--the immigrants, legal and illegal.

CHRISTOPHER MARTIN HIRT, Riverside

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By focusing on those immigrants who may need government assistance, especially new arrivals, Stein misses the big picture. A 1997 study by a research fellow at UC San Diego, for example, shows that immigrants residing in L.A. County are no more likely than U.S. citizens to receive welfare, and undocumented immigrants are even less likely to do so. Other studies by government agencies have shown that immigrants pay vastly more in taxes than they receive in welfare. The average immigrant pays at least $1,300 a year in taxes. Every 100,000 additional immigrants contribute $2.4 billion in taxes to the Social Security fund.

Contrary to Stein's assertions, immigrants do not fuel the poverty rate. Rather, they fuel our economy through tax payments, entrepreneurial activity and consumer spending. If Stein is concerned about poverty, I suggest that he investigate why so many hard-working immigrants who hold the most menial jobs receive poverty wages.

RUTH SHAPIN, Orange

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